4 Outdoor Play Areas for Homeschoolers

Outdoor time is scientifically proven to reduce stress and actually improve learning. Unfortunately, many children aren’t getting enough time outside with nature. One of the benefits of homeschooling is that we can get outdoors any time we want to. It's yet another great reason to homeschool!

Below are four ways to create outdoor play areas for your homeschool experience. When you have a dedicated spot, you're more likely to spend that valuable time playing outside.

1. Read-Aloud Picnic Spot

Nothing invites relaxation more than tossing a blanket or quilt on the grass and settling in to read a book with our children. Bring some healthy snacks and drinks, and it’s a read aloud picnic! Bring your favorite book, a few coloring pages, and make an afternoon of it. 

  • Bring math to the mix by encouraging children to count how many somersaults they can do. 

  • Incorporate science by using binoculars to view birds in the trees above you. How many species can you identify? 

  • Let them be creative: give your child a disposable camera to take photographs, or let them sketch what they observe while on the picnic.

  • Write a picnic poem together. 

Your picnic spot can be an outside table, a bench, a tent you quickly set up, or merely a perfectly shaped spot of grass. Keep a picnic basket or tote near the door so you can quickly grab your tablecloth or ground cover for spur-of-the-moment Read-Aloud picnics. 

Of course, you wouldn't want to store books outdoors, but if you use a morning basket, it's easy enough to grab and go.

Your Read-Aloud picnic spot would benefit from an outdoor chalkboard for writing down aspects of your homeschool lessons. Either buy one or make one using smooth plywood and chalkboard paint. Of course, you can also encourage your children to draw designs on a sidewalk or driveway. 

2. Child-Friendly Garden

4 Outdoor Play Areas for HomeschoolersGrowing things brings us all closer to nature, and children are fascinated by watching things grow. You don’t need a lot of space to do this. A medium terra-cotta pot is perfect for tucking in a few herbs like thyme, oregano, and basil. If you have a little more space, add cherry tomatoes and sweet peppers which also grow well in pots. Encourage your children to dig in the soil to find worms and other insects. 

  • Encourage children add a creative touch to their own gardens by painting pots or they can paint rocks to label where their new plants are. 

  • Add some whimsy to your garden by planting allium bulbs. These flowers look like giant lollipops when they bloom and they attract pollinators such as honeybees and butterflies. 

  • Add a small bird feeder and fill it with sunflower seeds to observe birds up close. 

  • Provide the proper tools for your child. They can use your tools, or you can pick up child-sized tools such as small watering cans, gloves, trowels, and rakes. 

3. Water Play Area

In summer, my daughter basically lives in the water, so water play is a priority in our family. You don’t need to live near the beach or have a pool to incorporate water play in your homeschool. A simple garden hose is perfect. You can create rainbows in the spray and you may even have a bird or two fly down close for a cool off! 

  • Provide old pots and pans to fill with water. Encourage children to tap on them with spoons and notice the differences in the sounds depending on how much water each pan contains. 

  • Make mud pies and encourage children to decorate them with found natural objects such as flowers, leaves, and twigs. 

  • Puddle jumping! Homeschool doesn’t have to be focused on learning a specific lesson. Play is learning. Jumping in puddles is amazing fun.

  • Provide water sprinkers, wading pools, water guns, sliding mats, buckets, and hose attachments in your water play area. 

4. BookShark Science Experiment Station

Take your science experiments outside and enjoy the sun and a warm breeze while you’re learning. You don’t have to worry as much about spills or the clean up either and you and your children can simply focus on the joy of learning. One of my daughter’s favorite activities was making the compass from BookShark Science Level 1. She did the whole activity on the front porch and when we were finished, we used the water to water the flowers!

I am looking forward to taking our homeschool outside more as it warms up and I know my daughter is looking forward to it as well. After all, is there anything better than ending a nice, long day outside in the fresh air and sunshine? We think not.

See BookShark's hands-on and literature-based Science programs.

About the Author

Resa BrandenburgResa Brandenburg is a former teacher who is now passionate about unschooling her daughter. She lives with her husband in an old farmhouse by the river in Kentucky. Her favorite thing to do is spend the afternoon with her family, including her grown sons and two grandchildren. Her hobbies include traveling, reading, and quilting. She blogs about life, love, and learning at A Musing Mother.